How To Read Body Language

  • By: Phil Taylor
  • Time to read: 11 min.

Body language can give us clues about the person we are speaking with. This is why it is important to understand how to read body language.

Body language can be very telling, especially when you’re trying to make a pitch or sell an idea. If you’re trying to get someone on board with an idea, it helps if you take the time to observe and understand their body language. This will help you figure out what needs to be done in order for them to be more receptive and understanding of your message.

You need to be observant of your environment and the context of the conversation in order to be able to read body language. You should take note of the way someone moves, their facial expressions, and any other gestures that they may make. Once you identify these features, it is easier for you to understand what the person may be feeling or thinking about at that moment.

The human body has a variety of ways to communicate messages to other people. You can learn how to interpret these messages if they are aware of what the body is saying.

Context Is King

Context Is King

When we first start reading someone, we have to take into consideration where they are and who they are with? Are you observing them in a social, business, or formal setting?

Observing people in a social setting is typically more casual and informal. For instance, when observing in a social setting, you might see someone playing with their hair or adjusting their eyeglasses. This behavior is not as common in a business or formal setting. For example, instead of playing with their hair, someone at work may readjust the knot of his tie or straightening his shoulders. This could mean many different things in that environment.

Context is important in understanding people. We often hear about statements taken out of context, also we can take non-verbal language out of context to try and create a purpose or meaning that is completely wrong.

One of the most common misinterpretations of body language is the arms crossed across the chest. This could mean many different things, including closed off, defensive, or simply cold and wanting to be warm.

Another way to think about this is when words are taken out of context and used in statements, like what you see on TV in court appearances.

When words are taken out of context and used in statements, they can be used to make people look bad. For example, in court proceedings, you may hear an attorney make an incriminating statement about a client, yet when the full recording is examined it is clear the individual was not referring to his/her client.

So everything is relevant to the situation we need to build a complete picture before we start reading people.

The first thing we need to do is think about when reading body language is the setting or environment we are observing in and start gathering data points for a baseline.

Learn To Baseline When Observing

Learn To Baseline When Observing

The “baseline” of a person is the set of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that are typical for them. It does not take into account temporary or situational factors.

For example, someone who is depressed might have a baseline that includes feeling sad and hopeless all the time. So they will have their heads down and move with no energy.

Another example of a baseline is when a person is in a social setting and is feeling more relaxed and happy. They will have open gestures and smile a lot more with good eye contact.

To get a true baseline, you need to observe the person in a relaxed and heated situation so you can see the difference between the two and start picking out inconsistent data points.

This is easier said than done, so we should work with what we have in the moment, gathering information and data points as we analyze the situation.

The reason we need to get a baseline is to catch sudden changes and questions within the person’s body language. Any shift or unnatural change should be an area of interest.

It’s worth noting here detecting deception is difficult. It can be hard to know if a person is lying by looking at them, and the person may not even tell the lie with words. However, it has been found that small changes in body language can indicate signs of deceit, such as sudden movements or gestures.

By establishing a baseline and noticing any sudden changes in an individual’s body language, it will be possible to catch or probe a little further into a person’s thought process.

This is the reason we baseline a person. We need to catch changes in order to spot exactly what is going on with a person.

Reading body language can be hard, but as with anything, it will become easier the more you work at it.

Noticing Cluster Cue’s

Noticing Cluster Cue’s

We are looking for a shift from the baseline, but not just one or two differences. There needs to be a group of four or five cues to raise our interest.

Example of clusters: Arms down to the side being moved across our chest a shift in breathing from the stomach to the chest. An increase in blink rate from slow to rapid, moving sitting up in a chair or moving around, eyebrows narrowing, and pupil dilation.

Clusters need to take place within five minutes or so in order to harvest/gather information.

When you spot a shift or group, something is happening. That’s when we need to take account of it or research further depending on the reason we are reading in the first place. Since I picked up this skill, I’ve become a better observer and that has helped me to become better at conversations. It’s kind of like a secret superpower.

Do The Words Match The Body Language Cues

Do The Words Match The Body Language Cues

When we analyze body non-verbals we also have to listen to the voice. Does the message match the cues?

For example, Words can be cues that signal emotion, which is why words like “money” and “pay increase” are used to elicit the desired response.

Body language can also match the sentiment of what is being discussed. For example, if someone mentions money or a pay increase, they may rub their hands together because the person would be happy about it.

Or when a person uses an illustrator the hand will move as we talk to highlight the points we are making.

If they are out of sync with the message, this would be a data point that interests us one that is worth noting depending on what we are trying to achieve.

Mirroring & Matching

Mirroring & Matching

Humans are a social species and have a natural affinity for imitation. We mimic the postures and gestures of others in order to build rapport. If you are trying to establish rapport with someone, it is best to copy their posture and gestures.

Can you see mirroring when that person speaks to you? If not you may not have build rapport with them.

Are you observing a conversation between two people? Can you see mirroring like the photo above? If not why not?

Mismatched rhythm, flow, and pronunciation can cause many issues if we are not in sink with the other person. That’s why mirroring can be matched to create perfect flow through changing dialect, speech rate or tempo, pitch, tonality, and voice inflection. You can also alter specific word use as well as an accent to match up precisely.

When you see mirroring like the above picture it’s like the other person seeing their reflection in the mirror.

Its All In The Feet

Its All In The Feet

In the fabulous book What Every Body Is Saying, Joe Navarro suggests we start to analyze from the ground up. The feet will indicate where a person wants to go, as well as comfort and discomfort.

The feet are also are a reflection of what the person is feeling on the inside. When we are feeling restless or uncomfortable, our feet will often be bouncing around or wrapping around a chair leg to lock. If someone has their feet up on the seat of a chair, it may be because they feel superior to others and need to put themselves in an elevated position.

When in doubt, trust your gut. Emotions often appear as microexpressions in fractions of seconds, so if we feel a certain way, it’s probably for good reason.

How To Read Body Language And Facial Expressions

Body language and facial expressions are ways in which we communicate with other people. The way you stand, the way you walk, the way you look at someone – these are all forms of communication.

Body language can be divided into two main categories: verbal non-verbal. Verbal body language is what we say to others verbally or through written words while non-verbal body language is how we communicate to others without words. There are a number of cues that individuals might look for in order to understand the meaning of someone’s non-verbal behavior – such as eye contact, hand gestures, and posture.

The most important thing about reading body signals is that each person has their own unique mannerisms and they’re not always universal! So don’t make assumptions about someone’s personality based on what you see right away.

How To Read Body Language In An Interview

One of the most common mistakes that interviewees make is not paying attention to body language, which may be their downfall.

Some of the most common body language cues include:

  • Facial expression- optimism, anger, or surprise.
  • Gestures- waving hands to emphasize a point or showing palms in an effort for openness and honesty.
  • Posture- slouched over or upright posture taking up space.
  • Speech patterns- fast-talking or slow talking.

How To Read Body Language When Someone Is Lying

Most people believe that they can spot a liar by their body language. This is not exactly true.

People who are lying might display some specific behaviors such as looking away, playing with their hair, scratching themselves, etc. However, the problem is that these behaviors might also happen when someone is uncomfortable or feeling guilty about something. In addition to this, some people are just really good liars and their body language reveals nothing about whether they are telling the truth or not.

It is worth checking out Spy A Lie how to detect deception and also Telling Lies by Paul Ekman for a more in-depth look into lying and body language tells.

How To Read Body Language When Someone Likes You

You can generally tell when a person likes you by observing their body language. We can see if they are trying to get closer to us, talk more, or make eye contact.

A person who likes you will try to get closer to you and be more engaged in the conversation. They will also try to make eye contact with you and touch your arm or back in order to show interest in what you’re saying.

To learn more about if someone likes you check out how to tell if he secretly loves you for more tips and tricks.

How To Read Candidate Body Language In An Interview

The way a person behaves in an interview can tell a lot about them. Most importantly, how they respond to the questions that are asked will show their interest and whether or not they would be a good fit for the position.

Having said that, we could confuse nervous body language with negative body language. We need to take the candidate’s stress into account before we analyze them.

Some signs that could show if someone is interested in the job include eye contact, leaning forward when talking, taking notes, asking questions at the end of the interview.

Signs that might indicate that someone is not interested to include: looking around the room, crossing arms across the chest, looking bored or uninterested.

In conclusion, it is important to observe body language during an interview because it can make all the difference for future candidates.

How To Read Body Language Of Couples In Pictures

Body language is one of the most powerful ways to tell what someone is feeling. It’s what they don’t say that really tells you what they are thinking.

The following reading of body language in pictures will help you understand how your partner may be feeling in a given moment.

Body language can be interpreted in different ways depending on the context, but most body language experts agree that posture and facial expression are two of the strongest indicators of how a person feels.

Check out these body language images of couples that are into each other.

What Does Your Body Language Say About You

The most important thing to keep in mind when trying to read body language is that it isn’t just about what someone does with their hands. Body language also communicates information through facial expressions, posture, the way they sit or stand, and even how they dress.

It is important that you are aware of your own body language as well. Your posture, facial expressions, and other movements can have an impact on how others perceive you.

Are you displaying any negative body language or are you more open and honest? It’s worth checking out this YouTube video of Mark Bowden talking about how to use non-verbal communication.

How To Read My Therapist Body Language

How To Read My Therapist Body Language

One of the most important things to know when it comes to understanding people is their body language. For therapy, this becomes very important because a therapist and their client often spend hours in the same room together.

The client is often taught by their therapist what certain thoughts mean, but it can also be helpful to learn how to read your therapist’s body language as well.

It’s possible there are a few tips to read your therapist’s body language. Are they making good eye contact with you? When you answer a question do you notice a shift in their body language? Are their feet pointing towards you or the door? Are they mirroring your body language? These are all good signs that they care about you and what they’re trying to achieve.

Summary

Practicing reading body language is natural and instinctive, which makes it not that hard to do. But understanding when to cluster and pick up on tells can be more difficult.

Body language is a type of nonverbal language that allows us to express our thoughts and feelings. Through body language, we can tell when someone is excited or sad, nervous or confident. It’s natural and instinctive to pay attention to body language. What’s not natural, however, is understanding when someone is expressing emotion and when they are trying to hide it.

Hopefully, these techniques will help you to read between the lines more easily.

Thank you for reading. I hope you found this post helpful! If it is, I would really appreciate it if you read my other posts about body language at the following bodylanguagemattersblogs